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At 9th level, Monks gain an improvement of their Unarmored Movement feature:

At 9th level, you gain the ability to move along vertical surfaces and across liquids on your turn without falling during the move.

Searching on the site for an answer, I only found ones related to turns in combat. I'm wondering what happens outside of it. If I have 50 ft. of speed, I can only move up to 50 feet during a turn, that's clear.

But how does this work out of combat, when movement isn't forcefully split up because of turns? Do I fall after 50 feet, or can I move on vertical surfaces and across liquids indefinetely?

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RAW is unclear, but I believe the intent is that you are still limited to a certain distance; it's not indefinite

RAW, the feature is worded in a way that only makes sense in combat when time is divided up into turns, therefore it is unclear what this means outside of combat. However, if I guess the intent of the feature, then I believe it is equivalent to saying:

... you gain the ability to move along vertical surfaces and across liquids as far as your movement will allow1 without falling.

Therefore, the way I would rule it is that the amount of liquid surface you can run across (or how far up a wall you can run) before you fall would match your maximum movement (meaning your current speed plus however much additional movement you can achieve from Dashing).

If it was intended to let you run across an ocean or all the way to the top of a giant tower, then why would the feature have you fall at the end of your turn during combat, rather than just having you stay where you are on a liquid or vertical surface between turns? From this, we can deduce that the feature is not intended to allow indefinite movement across liquids or vertical surfaces.

Also note that, since we're out of combat and therefore not dividing time and movement in turns, we can assume that you start your sprint across water or up a wall at the edge of the water or at the bottom of the wall, whereas in combat you might have to move up to the edge of the water or the wall first (also, you might not have an action/bonus action to spend to Dash, whereas outside of combat this can be assumed more easily); that's why I would assume your maximum movement outside of combat (if I were your DM).


1. What I mean by this is your current speed, including how much your movement can be increased via Dashing, such that this matches the maximum amount of movement you could achieve within a turn during combat. I hope this is clear enough from this wording.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Three times your speed, since if you've got a ki point to burn (or you're a rogue multiclass) you can Dash as a bonus action too. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Sep 24 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer Yes, I had remembered that double-Dashing is possible via Step of the Wind; I tried to avoid using "double speed" or anything concrete like that to take that into consideration (not sure if it's possible to quad your speed due to, say, Action Surge if you have a dip in Fighter, or other crazy things that could grant you yet more Dash actions... I can't find it now, but I remember a Q&A on here about some crazy maximum speed you can reach, I think SSD gave the top answer?) \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Sep 24 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ An example calculation might be helpful, a standard human monk of 9th level (+15 ft move) would just be able to move 90ft on a liquid or vertical surface or 135ft if they spend a ki point. \$\endgroup\$ – John Sep 24 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've always ruled this like so: "The monk doesn't fall into the liquid as long as they spend their entire turn moving. As soon as they do anything else, or if an attack successfully damages them, they slow down just enough to start falling into the liquid." Following this ruling, the monk could keep moving across liquids for an indefinite amount of time, at least until they get tired (which, since they are running the whole time, would probably be a lot sooner than a regular 8 hour march on solid ground). \$\endgroup\$ – Mage Xy Sep 24 at 18:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ To give an alternative approach: if this ability would have been intended to let you use it indefinately, you would have gotten "permanent spider climb and water walking", which saves a lot of ink and extra rulings. \$\endgroup\$ – ThisIsMe Sep 26 at 14:06

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